WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is discussing the possibility of announcing a campaign to retake the White House in 2024 on Inauguration Day and skipping the swearing-in of his successor, according to three people familiar with the discussions.
There is “preliminary planning” underway for a Jan. 20 event to kick off a new Trump bid, the people familiar with the discussions said, though it’s possible the president could make the announcement earlier as no final decisions have been made.
Regardless of the timing of a campaign announcement, Trump is not expected to attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, according to the people familiar with the discussions. He also does not plan to invite Biden to the White House or even call him, they said.
Biden transition officials said Trump’s attendance at the inauguration, or lack thereof, won’t affect their plans.
But Trump is keen on the idea of formally launching a 2024 campaign on Inauguration Day because that’s when he filed for re-election in 2017, people familiar with the discussions said.
Trump has recently told some advisers he wants to announce a 2024 campaign shortly after the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, the people familiar with the discussions said. If he were to announce earlier, he could still hold a campaign-style event or rally on Jan. 20. The Daily Beast first reported that Trump might hold a rally on Inauguration Day.
The Trump team has been weighing whether to extend the lease on his 2020 campaign headquarters in Virginia or move the small team that’s left elsewhere, one person familiar with the discussions said.
Already, Trump has raised millions of dollars for his leadership political action committee, “Save America,” which was launched last month as an intermediary vehicle to fund his post-presidency plans. Though nearly 500 emails have been sent seeking donations for an “election defense fund,” the fine print stipulates that as much as 75 percent can go toward the new group.
The president has told aides and allies he is thrilled with the fundraising haul since Election Day and has encouraged the campaign to keep firing off appeals in the coming weeks, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
Biden aides didn’t expected a traditional transition if he won the election. Specifically they didn’t anticipate that Trump would invite Biden to the White House and had concerns about such a meeting during a pandemic given the lack of safety protocols followed in the West Wing. NBC News has reported that Biden aides determined any such meeting would likely take place outside anyway.
It would be a rare, although not unprecedented, breach of norms for a sitting president not to attend the swearing-in of his successor. John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson all skipped the event while Richard Nixon departed the White House after his resignation and did not attend Gerald Ford's swearing-in.